You’re butters anyway,” they say, perched on bikes, brown faces barely visible in the darkness of Leytonstone High Road, London.
Being butters — ugly, unattractive, undesired, repulsive, nasty — continues to be something to avoid. Perhaps makeup, or weaves, or skin bleaching or tummy tucks can prevent ugliness. Maybe Nike trainers, stretch jeans and gold chains will induce the light-skinned boy from Hatherley Flats to look twice. One only needs a dimple, a hypnotic voice, or the ability to light a cigarette in one complete motion to be a winner.
But ugliness is there.
Ugliness defines a movement to dehumanize and demonize immigrants, Black people, Muslims, transgender people, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, individuals who are incarcerated, and many others.
It lives in the straightness of the face, the thickness of the neck, the feet that bend inwards, the selfishness, the materialism — ugliness oozes from the lips of the tangerine-tanned President and his shitty little fuckwit minions. Ugliness defines a movement to dehumanize and demonize immigrants, Black people, Muslims, transgender people, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, individuals who are incarcerated, and many others. Ugliness proliferates in social and economic disparity, and the freedom to overlook the actions of an abuser. It thrives in a system that incarcerates children who resist abuse from a pimp. Ugliness is exploitation, lack of opportunity, borders and cages; it rests in not giving a fuck about the violence of gentrification. Ugliness is a corollary of the displacement and pain of increasing rents — it lives in overpriced food, police brutality and dirty water.
Ugliness lives in an inflated privilege that bars us from demanding more, or assuming our worthiness.
I fucking hate ugliness.
Ugliness seems to penetrate, and we watch, sometimes knowingly with wide eyes and popcorn.
And London slang encapsulates one’s physical beauty, or lack thereof in one painful word, butters. While this term is offensive, it’s weirdly comforting. To hear the words of my youth when I return to London for the holidays, albeit temporarily, makes me feel at home. It implies that maybe I haven’t aged as much — words such as cunt, twat, prick or knobend are heard endearingly. And wrapped in a warm familiarity, which I often crave. Butters becomes beautiful in its ability to ignite memories, and its uncanny relevance to defining the present.
If one embodies buttersness, it pretty much means you’re doomed, eye contact will be all the more shorter, good service? Fuck that. And your job prospects — definitely hampered if you’re butters. They want good looking folks at these murderous companies, not too dark, nose — not too spread. No fat folks, ever.
There’s a template of perfection that is preconceived from the malignant schema of white supremacy. It’s an empty, irrational template, and people clamber to assimilate — flat ironing hair, gluing on eyelashes and waxing away the dark hairs above upper lips — all of this to resist being butters.
The tanned buffoon with wood between his ears is on a literal mission to destroy our planet. Anti-blackness will be The Big Bang that obliterates hope and sustenance.
Transphobia is the evil that stops all of us from being free.
The growth of our beauty relies on our ability to take action and resist what currently is — including the ubiquity of fascism. We have to decide who we stand for and what we stand for, cos hovering around in the middle isn’t helping.
Beauty is endless when we stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us. And this cannot be passive or whispers in the dark.
We must be loud, intense and unrelenting.